Monday, October 25, 2010

Making the Ordinary Original.... Macarons

Happy Monday Budget Brides!!!

Over the last couple of months a friend of mine has been discussing with me some of the details of her friends' weddings. She was a little taken back because she had shared her own wedding details with this friend and come to find out those details was definitely in the friends wedding so it got me to think. Two brides can definitely have the same idea but what makes the ideas special is originality.

Below are two images of a Macaron Tower with sparkles sprouting out of it. The Macarons are definitely ordinary but the flair of the tower and sparklers is so original.

Here are some ideas to make your Ordinary Ideas Original.

1. Decide on a theme and emerse your entire wedding in it. For example, if you and your fiance love Chinese food. Emerse yourself in the Chinese wedding culture and incorporate those details in your wedding. Maybe have a 10 course meal, wear a red kimono reception dress or create a invitation in chinese with a decoder feature.

2. Having a black tie wedding make it a masquerade theme and provide the masks. Your guests will love it.

3. Take a favorite dish you love and incorporate it into your wedding. Mr. Budget and I love his grandmother's receipe of Jewish Salad so we'll probably have it has our salad course when we get married.

So Budget Brides, what Ordinary ideas are you/ have you made orginial? And if possible let us know what your budget was.

Images via Swanky Tables via Cherry Blossom Girl


Monday, October 11, 2010

Real Budget Weddings.... Heather & Stephen

Happy Monday Budget Brides!!!

I hope you guys had a great weekend. Below is the feature that we promised you on Saturday. A special thanks to Heather from Bicoastal Bride for allowing us to feature her beautiful wedding.

Heather & Stephen Walrath
June 4, 2010
Thousand Oaks, California

What was your wedding day budget?

Our budget came to roughly $20,000, which may sound high to many brides out there, but is actually pretty frugal for the particular Southern California region where our wedding was held. Stephen and I were careful to "spend within our means" and prioritize those areas that meant the most to us.

Ceremony $675 (included church site, musical director, coordinator, officiating priest and marriage license fees.)

Reception $6,300 (no site fee, plus a reasonable food and drink minimum. The cost included a Mexican buffet dinner, plus three hours of hosted beer, wine and signature sangria.)

Cake $430 (Our three-tier wine-themed cake featured grapevine designs. We splurged a little on luster dust to give the cake a touch of sparkle, but were careful to avoid any labor-intensive decorations that would dramatically raise the price.)

Transportation $90 (To save money we rented a black van, which Stephen's sister drove. She also split the cost with us.)

Photography $3,400 (Damien Smith, my good friend and fabulous wedding photographer, shot complimentary "getting ready" photos for me, while Alex Neumann , whose artistry is simply incredible, wowed us throughout the rest of the day.)

Videography $1000 (By choosing an up-and-coming videographer, we were able to score eight hours at a great price.)

DJ $1,175 (We saved 10% by holding the wedding on a Friday.)

Stationary $300 (We saved a bundle by going DIY with our invites, escort cards and programs.)

Decorations/Favors $450 (Including items as our guestbook, white chocolate favors, card cage and other small decorative items, such as wine bottles and plastic grapes.)

Flowers $1,550 (By keeping our ceremony floral decor simple, consisting mainly of two altar arrangements which we later reused for the reception, we kept costs at a comfortable level. Our florist Lei-Ann also went above and beyond for us in all areas, especially by enhancing our cake with a dusting of flower petals and designing the most gorgeous bridal bouquet.)

Bride's Attire $2,400 (Including gown, alterations, tiara, veil, shoes, lingerie, garter and jewelry. My shoes from Payless' bridal collection were a steal at just $25!)

Bride's Hair & Makeup $520 (This was a definite splurge that was completely worth it. I felt beautiful and confident throughout the day, and the professional styling was picture perfect.)

Groom's Attire $0 (Since we had six groomsmen and two fathers renting their tuxes from Men's Wearhouse, Stephen's entire rental was FREE!)
Rings $900

Wedding Party Gifts $250

Month/Day of Coordinator $1,500

Wedding Hotel $95

First Dance Lessons $200

What was your wedding day theme and colors?

Our "California Romance" theme allowed us to tie in wine-related elements like grapes, wine bottles and corks, as well as postcards from our favorite California cities. Our colors were grape, white and silver, with touches of lavender here and there for added softness and contrast. We're big believers in "less is more," and our wedding was a simple yet elegant affair.

How many guests attended your wedding?

We held an intimate celebration for just 75 close friends relatives and friends. Keeping our guest count to no more than 80 was important to us, not only due to budget considerations, but also because we envisioned our day as a chance truly spend time with our loved ones without feeling rushed.

Which service or item was your budget buster?

Great photography was definitely our biggest splurge, but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a "budget buster" at all, since it was worth every penny! He blew us away with his skills, and most importantly, he made the entire day fun and relaxing, which shows in every one of our pictures.

Which item/service did you save the most money on?

Scoring eight hours of video coverage for $1,000 was a steal in our area. My great friend and fabulous wedding photographer, shot complimentary "getting ready" photos for me, while Alex Neumann wowed us throughout the rest of the day. While our video is not fancy high-definition or cinematic masterpiece, the hour-long finished product captures all the highlights of our day, including full ceremony, and is of a much higher quality than what we would have gotten had we relied on family or friends.

What DIY money saving projects did you use to maintain your budget?

Stationary and decor were two areas where we saved big by taking things into our own hands. Our DIY invites, made from a Brides kit sold at Michaels, were simple but classy. We also created our own map inserts, wine-cork escort-card holders, wine-bottle table name stands, a crossword puzzle challenge, pew bows, programs, custom tissue packets and more. Our motto was that DIY elements didn't have to be elaborate and definitely didn't have to stress us out!

What aspect of your wedding will you never forget?

After pouring so much love and effort into planning our day, seeing it all come together filled me with more happiness than ever before. I was fully present and in-the-moment, taking it all in sharing the once-in-a-lifetime experience with Stephen and our loved ones. Usually a "behind-the-scenes" girl, I truly enjoyed my day in the spotlight as I married my best friend.

Ceremony Venue

Saint Paschal Baylon Catholic Church

Reception Venue

Los Robles Greens Golf Course


Happy Flowers


Alex Neumann Photography
Damien Smith Photography


Max Maclver Videography

Dress Salon

Alfredo Angelo

Men's Apparel Store

Men's Wearhouse

Entertainment (DJ or Band)

Cover 2 Cover Music & Entertainment


Skiff's Cakes

Hair & Makeup

Makeup and Hair Design by Jana



All Occasions Event Planning

Thanks Heather for the amazing feature and photos. Don't forget to check out Heather's blog Bicoastal Bride.

Would you like to see your wedding feature here? Email us at

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Love Shots No. 9... Heather & Stephen

Happy Saturday Budget Brides!!!

Here is a sneak peak at the wedding we are going to feature on Monday. Heather and Stephen look so in love. Can't wait for you guys to see the full feature.

Have a great Saturday. Make it Count!!!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

6 Tips for Being Prepared for Your Bridal Appointment

Happy Thursday Budget Brides!!!

I have not revealed this until now but I am moonlighting as a bridal consultant as I continue to grow The Budget Brides Handbook as well as my event planning company, Sharise Finley Events. As a wedding dress consultant, I encounter brides everyday who come to their bridal appointment unprepared or just a complete mess.

Below are six tips that will help you to be a PREPARED BRIDE for your bridal appointment.
  • Pick up a few bridal magazines. If you see some dresses in there that you like rip them out and hold them until you go to your bridal appointment. This will help the consultant to see a visual of your style. (Sometimes brides come in with a style in mind but they cannot verbalize what they want which can waste valuable time.)
  • Do your homework!!! I was watching Girl Meets Gown yesterday and a bride came into the bridal store looking for a specific dress. However, that particular bridal store did not carry that particular line. So she spent her bridal appointment time trying on dresses that she really couldn't decide on because she just had to try on the dress that the store didn't have. Lesson: Call ahead and ask the bridal salon if they have the particular dress you are looking for if not keep moving until you find the store that carries that dress.
  • It is always nice to bring your whole family to the bridal appointment but it is definitely not necessary. I typically suggest that brides bring the people's whose opinion mean the most and the one who holds the purse.
  • If you are going wedding dress shopping on a day that you have made multiple appointments, let the consultant know up front. This will allow the consultant enough time to pace themselves and you while trying on wedding dresses.
  • Have some type of idea of what type of wedding that you are going to have. This will help the consultant to be able to pick the right dresses for you. For example, if you are having a morning wedding at the Botanical Gardens, you definitely should not wear a ballgown.
  • Never come to a bridal appointment without any money. At least have half the money that you are expecting to spend on your wedding dress. I cannot tell you how many brides I meet that fall in love with their wedding dress but do not ANY money to put down on their INVESTMENT.
So Budget Brides, Do you have any tips to help fellow brides on being prepared for their bridal appointment? If so, leave a comment.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deciding What to Spend Your Budget ON...

Happy Wednesday Budget Brides!!!

And Happy 2nd Anniversary to us!!! I have been writing this blog for the past two years and I still love it. My hope for the next year is to attract more readers, attract more Budget Bride stories, write with more consistency and create an online weekly for all of you. Thank you for being loyal readers and cheers to many more years.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Having a plan when it comes to planning your wedding is essential to staying within your budget. However, mapping that plan out allows for you, your finace and anyone else paying for the wedding to understand your expectations. When planning for your special day you must take sometime to determine what is really important to you. Is it food, flowers, decor, pictures? It will definitely be different for everyone but understanding where you want your money to go is essential to have a budget savvy wedding day.

Here are some instructions on how to set-up your budget allocation chart.

In an excel file, create 3 separate columns with the following names EXPENDITURES, PERCENTAGES and DOLLAR AMOUNT.

Under the EXPENDITURES column list all of the categories that you have included in your wedding. ie. Wedding Attire, Photography/Videography, etc.

Under the PERCENTAGES column, begin to assign the percentage of your budget that you envision spending on that particular category.

Under the DOLLAR AMOUNT column begin to input the dollar amount of that percentage for your overall budget.

    So Budget Brides, How did you decide what was important to you? How did you budget breakdown look?

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